Saturday, June 02, 2007

Summer Reading List: A Confederacy of Dunces

I am not equipped to talk about this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the background of which is the tragedy of the author's suicide, but I'm here to at least recommend it. Finally finished it the other day after several false starts, all of which were on plane rides, which goes to show that I should just stop trying to read on planes and instead watch the Food Network or one of the twelve ESPN channels or perhaps the America's Next Top Model marathon that always seems to be running.

The book introduces Ignatius J Reilly, who is an insufferable man-child, a lover of Boethius, hater of buses, and supporter of a Divine Right Party, as he encounters a host of amazingly detailed characters who occupy the city of New Orleans and its French Quarter. Beneath the story is a strain and frustration bred by the absurd interpersonal relationships, all of which are based on miscommunication and all of which are happily resolved (which surprised me), save for the two central figures who could not survive without the ridiculous and selfish convictions that cocoon their world views. The prose is bombastic, never a dull moment or lapse in energy. People are always shrieking or crying or shouting or whacking or attacking, revolutions are born and die, along with vice, pornography, baked goods. . . I'm not even going to try. This book is fantastic, and I heartily recommend it.

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